Briefing Paper May 2018

Any display of humanity in Israel is political suicide. A straight line of evil and racism  runs from the Gaza border to Tel Aviv. In both cases Israelis don’t see human beings in front of them. . . . . . In Gaza, Israeli army snipers shot unarmed demonstrators as if they were on a shooting range, to a chorus of rejoicing by the media and the masses.

It’s the Nation

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 5/4/18

Most Israelis, who have never spoken to a single Gazan, only know that the Gaza Strip is a nest of terrorists. That’s why it’s OK to shoot them. Shocking? Yes, but true — . . . .ultimately one should remember: It’s not  Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s the nation. At least most of the nation. All the displays of evil in recent days and all the farce were designed to satisfy the meanest desires and darkest instincts harbored by Israelis.

Israelis wanted blood in Gaza, as much as possible, and deportations from Tel Aviv, as much as possible. There is no way to embellish it; one mustn’t blur the facts. Netanyahu – feeble, pathetic, evil or cynical – was propelled by one motive: to please Israelis and fulfill their desires. And what they wanted was blood and deportation. If only the problem lay with Netanyahu and his government. Then, in one more election, or maybe two, the problem could be fixed. The good guys will take over, Gaza and the asylum seekers will be liberated, the fascist incitement will die out, the standing of the courts will be assured and Israel will again be a place to be proud of. That is a pipe dream. That’s why the campaign against Netanyahu is important, but it’s definitely not a fateful one. The real battle is much more desperate and its scope is much more widespread. This is a battle over the nation, sometimes even against it … The true calamity is not Netanyahu — it’s the fact that any display of humanity in Israel is political suicide. A straight line of evil and racism runs from the Gaza border to Tel Aviv. In both cases Israelis don’t see human beings in front of them. The Gazan and Eritrean are one and the same – subhuman. They have no dreams, no rights and their lives are worthless. In Gaza, Israeli army snipers shot unarmed demonstrators as if they were on a shooting range, to a chorus of rejoicing by the media and the masses. In south Tel Aviv they are back to arrests and deportations — this, too, to the sound of cheers.   This is what the nation wants and this is what it will get. Even if soldiers kill hundreds of demonstrators in Gaza, Israel will not bat an eyelid. The reason: evil and hatred of Arabs. Gaza is never perceived as it really is, aplace inhabited by people, an enormous and terrible prison, a huge site of human experimentation…..

A quiet afternoon on the border of the concentration camp called Gaza

Gideon Levy Alex Levac Ha’aretz 4/04/18

The fence separated them. On each side stood the children of the late 1990s, young people of the same age, Israeli soldiers and Gaza demonstrators. They stood opposite each other, the armed and protected soldiers with their jeeps, bulldozers, dirt barriers, barbed wire and watchtowers, and opposite them the exposed demonstrators, a parasol and an ambulance. Several dozen Gaza residents came to the fence at midweek, too, to stand and silently defy the fence and soldiers, while behind them 18 families mourned their loved ones and hundreds nursed their wounds – victims of the mass shooting last Friday. It was afternoon. The earth-moving equipment that’s building the huge underground barrier and putting up dirt barriers all along the fence raised dust that sometimes blocked visibility. The drilling machines, watchtowers and jeeps – overloaded with intelligence and protective gear on their roofs – lent the place the appearance of a science-fiction film. Nothing makes sense here, at the fence of the huge concentration camp called Gaza: the residents who helplessly watch the bulldozers closing in on them, intensifying the siege and the strangulation. The drivers of the heavy engineering equipment, some of whom are Israeli Arabs who use a phosphorescent bulletproof vest as a prayer rug, while on the other side they’re kneeling for that same afternoon prayer toward the same Mecca and to the same God. The huge quantities of concrete being poured into the bloody earth to achieve even more imaginary security for Israel, opposite the group of barefoot men whose most sophisticated weapons this week were large mirrors with which they tried to blind the snipers firing at them. How sad it is to travel along the Burma Road, the military’s nickname for the patrol road next to the fence that locks in Gaza; how sad to see the houses on the other side up close, like stretching out an arm and touching it, and think about  the fate of the inhabitants. How sad it is to see the huge sums being poured into the earth in this imaginary  underground barrier, at the edge of which cement factories have been built to satisfy its appetite for concrete, and think about how much good could be done with this money. How sad it is to observe the Gaza prison from outside.

You bet it’s apartheid

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 26/3/18

With Ahed Tamimi’s sentence to jail, the truth has come out about Israel — They might not have intended it –this is too big for them, and perhaps even too big for their arrogance, but they are the initiators of the regime, or at least its harbingers. They studied law and went to work (“to serve”) in the military courts. They were promoted and became military judges. That’s what they call the clerk-officers who work for the moral army as judges of the occupied in the occupied territories. They work in a military unit with a biblical name: the “Judea  Military Court,” and they decide people’s fate. No doubt they’re certain they’re working in a legal system, like they were taught at university. There are, after all, prosecutors and defense attorneys in it. There’s even a translator. Most of the work attracts no attention.

In Israel, who cares what happens in the prefabs at the Ofer military base? They have sent thousands of people to an aggregate tens of thousands of years of imprisonment, and almost never exonerated anyone; at their workplace, there’s no such thing. They have also approved hundreds of detentions without hearings, even though there is no such thing in a country of law. Day after day, it’s just another day at the office.

And then Ahed Tamimi came to them. Almost 2 million people around the world signed a petition calling for  her release. And the forces of Israeli military justice just kept at it, clerks devoted to the system. Now they must be thanked. This time they exposed to the world the naked truth: They are working for an apartheid system. They are its harbingers. They are its formulators. They are its contractors, small cogs in a big machine, but reflective of reality…

‘ The BDS movement should congratulate the officers who lifted all doubt from those who still had any  doubts. The legal system that has one law for Jews and another for Palestinians, without apology, without whitewashing, should be appreciated for its honesty. A legal system that sentenced a soldier who shot a wounded man [dead] to only one more month than its sentence for a teenage girl who slapped a soldier – this is a system that openly admits it considers slapping the occupier equal to the murder of a person under occupation….

US aid cut to harm Palestinian refugees in Syria

Patrick Strickland Al Jazeera 25/1/18

As US President Donald   pulls back funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees,  UNRWA, Palestinians in Syria are facing “life-threatening” conditions, the agency’s spokesperson said. “Palestinians are among those worst affected by the [Syrian] conflict,” said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, explaining that 95 percent of 438,000 Palestinians in the war-torn country are “in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance”. “The war in Syria has devastated lives with incalculable cruelty. In this situation, many of the services UNRWA provides are often literally life-saving,” Gunness told Al Jazeera, referring to UNRWA’s  makeshift clinics, emergency assistance and teaching staff that educates 45,000 students a day. Nearly 58 percent of Palestinians in Syria are internally displaced, with upwards of 56,600 trapped in hard-to-reach or inaccessible parts of the war-ravaged country, he added. . . . . . . .”For Palestinians of Syria, it’s life-saving aid, especially in the context that many Palestinians lack access to many basic services, even [those who fled] in Lebanon or Jordan." Salamah added: It falls within the long-standing tradition of eroding the existence of Palestinians … and it is tragic.”…

Teens Abdul Khalik Burnat and Mohammed Tamimi brought before military court

Samidoun 29/1/18

Abdul-Khalik Burnat, 17, the son of Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, was brought before the Ofer Israeli military court on 28 January 2018. Iyad Burnat posted on Facebook describing Abdul-Khalik’s hearing and the experience of attending the court. ‘I attended the ‘hearing’ today, fifty days after my son’s abduction, and it was a long day of deliberate humiliations and insults. My wife and I went through several gates and numerous humiliating body searches, and then we arrived at a yard where the detainees’ families wait to attend their children’s ‘hearings’. After two hours of waiting, we entered the ‘court’, and what a court it is! A court filled with soldiers wearing military uniforms and a child in a cage, his feet in chains, wearing a brown uniform and a broad smile. A smile that says, I am strong! A smile to greet his mother and father in an atmosphere filled with animosity and hatred. One of the soldiers told us to sit in an area reserved for families of the detainees and not to speak,’ Burnat wrote…

Also on 28 January, Mohammed Bilal Tamimi, 19, was brought before the military court after 17 days of  interrogation. Mohammed is one of the cousins of Ahed Tamimi who has been targeted for arrest and interrogation as part of the ongoing collective punishment directed against the family. Manal Tamimi, the teen’smother, said on Facebook that the military court judge did not yet rule on whether his interrogation should be extended as requested by the Shabak, the notorious Israeli intelligence service, and that a ruling would be made within the coming days. “Mohammed looks very tired, his face turned to yellow and he lost around 7 kilos or more of his weight, he don’t have enough food or sleep during the past 17 days and he went through so many interrogation sessions days and nights , despite this he is still very strong and they couldn’t break him,” Tamimi wrote about her son.

US wants school books changed

IMEMC/Agencies 31/1/18

The US administration has proposed that the UNRWA changesits school textbooks in order to continue to receive US donations, Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad reported, on Tuesday. The newspaper said that the US proposed two amendments to the textbooks, which include the abolition of all references to the right of return and issue of refugees in general, as well having no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Al-Ghad said that the other proposed condition, which would guarantee the continuation of US aid to the UN body only in occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, is to stop commemorating occasions such as Nakba Day and the Balfour Declaration. Meanwhile, the UNRWA’s Chief of Communications, Sami Msha‘sha‘, said that the US had conditioned the continuation of aid to the organizatio after carrying out the “amendments”, and said it would only fund UNRWA’s operations in Jordan and the occupied territories. He reiterated that the UNRWA is suffering from an “unprecedented” budget crisis, but he stressed that it would continue offering its services to Palestinian refugees in besieged Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Israel just created a new type of terrorism

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 30/1/18

Consistency requires that during their trip to Brussels this week, Israeli envoys present EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini with a summons for questioning at Ma’aleh Adumim police station on suspicion of terrorist activity. With one hand the Israeli representatives, by way of their Palestinian subcontractor, will receive a fat check from the EU to compensate for Donald Trump’s axe blow to funding forthe Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. (See under: “The cut to PA funding undermines security coordination.”) With the other hand they will hand over the summons for questioning on suspicion of terrorism and aid to terrorism. Because of Auschwitz, or because of the scientific-defense ties with Israel, the European representatives will accept the summons with a smile. “We always knew the Jews had a highly developed sense of humor,” they’ll say. But they’re wrong. This is no joke. It’s preparation for another expulsion. On the Knesset website there appears a new category of terrorism, “construction terror.” Those convicted in  advance include the PA, the Bedouin and the European Union. The prosecutor, judge and executor is MK Moti Yogev of Habayit Hayehudi, who is also the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on expelling Palestinians, also known as the subcommittee for civilian and security affairs in Judea and Samaria. He has declared that Palestinian construction in the West Bank is “terrorism” when it takes place in the area that Israeli cunning has turned into another rock of our existence – Area C, in which every tent, animal pen and water pipe needs an Israeli building permit, which is never granted. Anyone wanting to house the young couple in a room of their own, or replace a worn out, leaking tent, or build a preschool classroom is forced to violate the master’s laws….

Israeli bulldozers destroy Palestinian water pipeline in Jordan Valley

Ma‘an 5/2/18

Israeli bulldozers destroyed water lines supplying tens of acres of land in the northern Jordan Valley on Monday morning. Local activist Aref Daraghmeh told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers destroyed a water pipeline belonging to a Palestinian identified as Bassem Faqha. The line feeds some 150 dunams (37 acres) of land planted with watermelons. The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C — under full Israeli military control. Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with the Jordan Valley’s Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies….

Palestinians ask: How do you feel living in our homes?

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 3/2/18

In her spacious apartment in the western part of this city, artist Tamam al-Akhal longs for her home in the Old City of Jaffa. The widow of the unofficial Palestinian national painter Ismail Shammout, she has turned her home into a shrine in his memory. Paintings by both artists adorn every wall and are also stacked up in her atelier, in one of the rooms of the house. Most of the works depict the Nakba and the occupation, realistic pictures of deeply engaged national art, bold and jolting. A maid serves hot sachlav, and in minutes, Akhal is talking about the house in Jaffa, which she was forced to leave in 1948 with her parents, via a rickety boat to Beirut, and to which she was not allowed to return. She was 12 at the time. Her whole life and work since then have played out under the shadow of that trauma. A stranger will not be able to comprehend this. An Israeli won’t accept it, and will almost certainly not show compassion, sympathy, responsibility or guilt. Living in Jordan and longing for Zion; in the East while her heart is in the West. Akhal will not forget nor forgive the Israeli artist who, in 1997, refused to allow her to enter the house that had once been her family’s home,and had subsequently become the Israeli’s….

Like a safari, IDF troops hunt a Palestinian and shoot him in the head

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac Ha’aretz 9/2/18

The killing field of young Laith Abu Naim is an empty lot in the remote village of Al-Mughayyir, north of Ramallah. Someone once planned to build a house here, but got no further than iron rods and a retaining wall. The boy ran for his life between the rods, pursued by two armored Israel Defense Forces jeeps. The chase ended when the door of one of the vehicles opened and a soldier aimed his rifle straight at Laith’s forehead from a range of 20 meters. He fired one bullet, killing the teen – the same way an animal is hunted down and bagged on a safari. A 16-year-old boy who dreamed of becoming a soccer goalie threw stones at a jeep and suffered the punishment of execution at the hands of a soldier, perhaps to teach him a lesson, perhaps as revenge. The rubber-coated steel bullet struck the exact spot it was aimed at – the boy’s forehead, above his left eye – and had the anticipated result: Laith fell to the ground and died shortly afterward.

The outstanding IDF sniper could have aimed at his legs, used tear gas, or tried to stop him in other ways. But he chose, in what seems to be an almost standard pattern in recent weeks in this area, to fire a round directly at the head. That’s how soldiers shot two young men named Mohammed Tamimi, one from Nabi Saleh, the other from ‘Aboud, wounding both youngsters seriously. The latter is still hospitalized in grave condition in a Ramallah hospital; the former, part of his skull missing, is recovering at home.

The earth is still bloodstained where Abu Naim fell, and littered with shreds of a memorial poster with his picture on it. According to the grocer, the soldier who fired the shot walked over to the dying teen and turned over his body with his foot, apparently to check his condition. The soldiers ordered the grocer to get back into his store and close it. They left without offering the victim any medical assistance….

Palestinian villagers’ last-ditch plea as Israeli bulldozers prepare to move in

PNN 12/2/18

Despite outrage from British MPs and renowned international academics, the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank is bracing itself for the bulldozers, after Israel’s High Court gave an initial green light to the government (1st February 2018). Israel wants to demolish 20 buildings, equal to onefifth of the entire village, including a health clinic funded by the Italian government which cares for around 500 people from Susiya and surrounding communities. The Israeli High Court has just announced that demolition can proceed without delay for 7 of the buildings housing 42 residents, half of them children. The villagers’ lawyers, Haqel, welcomed what they see as a tentative push-back against the demolition process but point out that ‘the terror of demolition’ looms large over the village, with the remaining 13 scheduled buildings still under threat.

Nasser Nawajaa from the Village Council said the timing of the demolition – in the middle of winter – could not be more devastating. Those made homeless are expected to face freezing rains and harsh winds in the coming weeks. In 2012, Susiya villagers commissioned a master plan in the hope of putting their lives on a more stable footing. Israeli authorities, however, rejected the plan, effectively blocking any new construction of houses or essential infrastructure, including running water and electricity. As a result, adults, children and the elderly house themselves as best they can, often in tents, forbidden from making substantial repairs to their ailing homes — homes located, as Nawajaa stressed, on land that belongs to the Palestinians. Activists point out that the plan to demolish Susiya is a part of an extensive campaign across the West Bank and East Jerusalem….

Israel must safeguard Jewish majority

Al Jazeera 13/2/18

Israel must safeguard a Jewish majority even at the expense of human rights, the country's justice minister has said in a speech defending a bill that would legally define Israel as the "national home of the Jewish people" for the first time. Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Israel must maintain both a Jewish majority and democracy, but stressed that keeping the state's Jewish character may come "at the price" of human rights violations.

“There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights,” Shaked told a conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, Israeli media reported. In her speech, Shaked, a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, defended the so-called Jewish Nation-State Bill, which would constitutionally define Israel as the national home of the Jewish people for the first time. “There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality,” Shaked said, as reported by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

Palestinian family barely escapes death at the hands of Israeli settlers

WAFA 14/2/18

For Howaida Ahmed Saleh and her children, the pre-dawn hour of Wednesday was the most horrifying experience in her life. Saleh was still in shock in the morning, trying to regain her strength and life, and re-assure her young children that things will be okay. People gathered at her ‘Assira al-Shamaliya house, south of Nablus, to give moral support and to help the terrified family overcome its ordeal. “I was asleep when I heard glass being broken everywhere in the house,” said Saleh. “I was terrified. I grabbed my four children and ran to another safer room in the house as we walked through broken glass and stone all over the floor.” Around 30 settlers from the illegal  settlement of Yitzhar attacked Saleh’s home, throwing rocks at it from all directions. Lucky for her, the village residents also were also awaken by the attack and calls by her husband, Jawad Ahmad Shehadeh, for help and rushed to her house to help the family. The night attackers ran away. “If people were  five minutes late, there would have been a disaster and most likely we would have been hurt,” said Saleh. . . . . .. .”We noticed about a week ago that the soldiers stationed at the tower turned off the lights that lit the whole area,” said Hani, a resident. “We had a feeling that something was going to happen since the settlers always work in the dark.”….

Palestinian schoolteacher mauled by Israeli military dog as soldiers watch

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac Ha’aretz 16/2/18

It’s not an easy sight to look at. His wife shows us the photographs on her phone: his wounded arm, battered and bleeding, mauled and mangled, scarred along its entire length. The same with his hip. It’s the aftermath of the night of horror he endured, together with his wife and children.

Imagine: The front door is blasted open in the middle of the night, soldiers burst violently into the house and set a dog upon him. He falls to the floor, terrorized, the teeth of the vicious animal gripping his flesh for a quarter of an hour. All the while, both he and his wife and children are emitting bloodcurdling screams. Then, bleeding and wounded, he’s handcuffed and taken by the soldiers into custody, and denied medical aid for hours, until he’s taken to the hospital, which is where we met him and his wife this week. There, too, he had been under arrest, forced to lie shackled to his bed.

That near-lynching was perpetrated by Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Mabruk Jarrar, a 39-year-old Arabic teacher in the village of Burkin, near Jenin, during their brutal manhunt for the murderer of Rabbi Razie Shevach from the settlement of Havat Gilad on January 9. And if that wasn’t enough, a few days after the night of terror, soldiers returned again in the dead of night. The women in the house were forced to disrobe completely, including Jarrar’s elderly mother and his mute and disabled sister, apparently in a search for money.

. . . On Sunday morning the schoolteacher was still shackled to his bed with iron chains, and soldiers prevented his wife from tending to him. The soldiers left at midday after a military court ordered Jarrar’s unconditional release. It’s not clear why he was arrested or why the troops set the dog on him. His left arm and his leg are bandaged, the searing pain that still accompanies every movement is plainly visible on his face. His wife, Innas, 37, is by his side. They were married just 45 days ago, the second marriage for both. His two children from his first marriage – Suheib, who’s 9, and 5-year-old Mahmoud – were eyewitnesses to what the soldiers and their dog wrought on their father. The children are now staying with their mother, in Jenin, but their sleep is troubled, Jarrar tells us: They wake up with nightmares, shouting for him, and wetting their beds out of fear

Israel attacked children at Gaza beach in 2014 without first identifying targets

WAFA 15/2/18

The Israeli military launched missiles at a beach in the Gaza Strip during its 2014 offensive without first verifying that its targets were actually Palestinian children rather than combatants, according to investigatory materials that the Haifa-based Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza received from the Israeli military. On 16 July 2014, during the military offensive in the Gaza Strip that Israel termed “Operation Protective Edge”, Israeli naval forces fired missiles that killed four children of the Bakr family – Ahed, 10, Zakaria,10, Mohammed,11, and Ismail, 10 – while they were playing soccer on Gaza City’s fishing beach. Six other civilians were also wounded in the missile attack, including four children from the same extended family.

According to testimony collected by Israeli military investigators from a soldier involved in the missile strike: “The only people entering [that area] are fisherman who stop at the shack located there that was attacked during the operation prior to this incident. The mooring area, at that time, was under maritime closure and there were no fishermen there. In our research, we always work on the assumption that there are only Hamas members there.” Additional testimony collected by Israeli military investigators revealed that the Israeli military did not take any measures to ascertain whether the targets on the ground were civilians, let alone children, prior to intentionally directing the attacks against them….

Gaza girl awaiting surgery reunited with her mother in West Bank

Linah Alsaafi Al Jazeera 1/3/18

After battling kidney failure for nearly the entirety of her short life, Inam al-Attar, 12, from the Gaza Strip finally obtained a medical permit issued by Israeli authorities to undergo surgery in one of Ramallah’s hospitals in the occupied West Bank. Yet the experience was marred by heartbreak as she was forced to make the trip beginning from the Israeli Erez checkpoint, north of Gaza, without her parents by her side. Usually, a medical patient from the Gaza Strip is granted at least one guardian to accompany him or her to medically referred hospitals in the West Bank, Jerusalem or Israel. Inam had counted on her mother Salwa being with her every step of the way. “The Israelis did not give us a reason for refusing to give me a permit to go with her,” Salwa al-Attar told Al Jazeera. “The entire family tried to convince me and my daughter that we had no choice but to let her go by herself, but I was too distraught to allow it at first. Inam needs round the clock care and did not want to go without me.”

On Monday, Salwa accompanied her daughter on the short trip from their home in Beit Lahia to Erez checkpoint, also known as the Beit Hanoun crossing. Israeli soldiers allowed Inam to pass through, but said her mother had to turn back because she did not have a permit to cross. “We were both inconsolable,” Salwa said. “Inam reached Ramallah’s Medical Complex after an hour and a half and kept crying for me.”

Inam’s story spread like wildfire. Local media converged at the complex and in response to the questions fielded by the crowd of journalists around her, the little girl broke down. “I want my mother” she cried. “I don’t want anything else, I just want my mother to be with me.” The governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, was among those who received Inam on Monday…

After Inam’s arrival in Ramallah, she refused to take medical tests without her mother by her side. The Palestinian civil coordination office liaised with the Israeli side and on Wednesday, Salwa was permitted to cross through Erez checkpoint. “I was shocked,” Salwa said. “I received a phone call from the coordination office and they told me I had 10 minutes to get to Erez before it would close.” Salwa said along with her brother Khalid and Inam, they spent most of the time at the medical complex. The date for the surgery has not yet been set, as they have to wait two weeks for the results of the medical tests that Inam and her uncle took….

Palestinian Authority battling Israel over school curriculum in East Jerusalem

WAFA 28/2/18

The Palestinian Authority is facing a vicious war from Israel over textbooks in occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinian schools, according to Deputy Minister of Education Basri Saleh. He told the official Voice of Palestine radio on Wednesday that Israel is doing its best to change the Palestinian curriculum and to prevent students from learning about their history and culture. Israel recently introduced new textbooks at East Jerusalem schools after omitting from them pages related to the Palestinian national struggle and history. It also refuses to financially support schools that refuse to use its textbooks instead of the Palestinian Authority’s books that have been taught in schools for many years. Saleh said in addition to the war over the textbooks, Israel also prevents rehabilitation of schools in the East Jerusalem, mainly in the Old City, to prevent the Palestinian students from getting education in a proper and healthy environment. He said his ministry is working with parent-teacher associations in the city to confront all these Israeli plans, in addition to resorting to international institutions to put pressure on Israel to stop these violations against the educational process in the city. Parent-teacher associations in East Jerusalem have also rejected the Israeli-issued textbooks and said they will provide students and schools with the Palestinian textbooks to prevent any distortions in the learning process of their children.

Israeli military training part of daily life in northern Jordan Valley

B’Tselem 2/3/18

Israel increased the frequency of training exercises in the area beginning November 2017. Since then, training has taken place near 11 Palestinian communities and three Palestinian villages in the northern Jordan Valley, which are home to some 7,500 residents. The military has been conducting the exercises closer to residents’ houses than before, and using more armored vehicles. Over the last few months, B’Tselem has documented military exercises involving infantry and tank deployment, mortar shelling and use of live ammunition on cultivated farmland, pastureland and near homes. While the training is underway, the military blocks access roads to the communities with large concrete blocks. In recent years, the military notified residents ahead of field exercises in their area and demanded that they evacuate and take their livestock with them. This practice was burdensome, disruptive and dangerous for the residents.

‘ Yet since November 2017, even this minimal precaution has been abandoned, and the military has been training in close proximity to residents’ homes without warning, putting their lives at risk. Over these months, B’Tselem has documented at least six military exercises that took place near residential areas, two of them right  between homes in the community. For example, on 12 December, armored forces and infantry trained in between homes in the village of ‘Ein al-Bida. On 27 December, soldiers were observed at a distance of some 200 meters from homes in the village  of al-‘Aqabah and on farmland south of it, and later that day, just several  meters away from the local school at the village of Tayasir. On 5 February 2018, the military held training exercises near Khirbet al-Farisiyah, which included the firing of multiple mortar shells about 100 meters away from residents’ homes, causing damage to groves …

One of the dangers associated with military training near Palestinian communities is unexploded ordnance left behind. At least three Palestinians have been killed, and five have been injured since 2014 when unexploded ammunition detonated. In testimonies given to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh,Palestinian shepherds from the northern Jordan Valley expressed their deep concern over potential injury from ordnance when they take their livestock out to pasture following a military field exercise. The training is part of Israel’s longstanding policy aimed at driving Palestinian communities out of the area. Instead of openly loading residents onto trucks and removing them, Israel is going to great lengths to create impossible living conditions that will, eventually, push them to leave the area, seemingly of their own accord…

‘Intervention in Gaza’s humanitarian crisis contingent on fallen soldiers’ return’

Matan Tzuri Ynet 5/3/18

GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir said Israel’s investment in the quality of life of the residents of Gaza is contingent on the return of the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers held in the Strip and Hamas’ cooperation with the Israeli government. “We have a supreme obligation to return the missing civilians and IDF soldiers,improving the situation of the residents of Gaza depends on this issue as well,” Zamir said in a speech at the Sderot Conference on Society. Zamir than stated that Iran’s involvement in the Strip is discouraging Hamas from moving in said direction, and called Iran’s efforts to turn Hamas into its proxy “a dangerous game.”

 What it’s like being a cancer patient in Gaza

Manal MassalhaHaaretz 6/3/18

“I haven’t had my medication for months. I live on painkillers, anti-clotting Glexan injections, thyroid drugs, to name but a few of the drugs I need to take daily but can’t because they’re no longer available at a subsidized rate. I simply can’t afford to buy them privately. My teeth need urgent dental care because of all the chemotherapy I had, but can’t afford the treatment either. The latest PET scan I had showed two lumps in the thyroid gland that need to be removed and examined urgently. I’ve been waiting for over a month to be assigned an appointment for a biopsy, but haven’t heard anything and was told by my surgeon in Gaza that there are no operations available at Ash Shifa [Gaza] hospital before 2020.

‘It’s disastrous to be a cancer patient in Gaza. It’s humiliating and undignified. It’s being sentenced to a slow death. Cancer treatment is not available in Gaza and access to treatment outside of Gaza is controlled by the Israelis, the Egyptians and the Palestinian Authority, none of whom seem to care, take our condition seriously or deal with us in urgency. For them we’re just numbers … Being a cancer patient is physically, psychologically and financially exhausting. We have to take care of all the procedures ourselves. We have to  apply for the financial coverage for our medical referrals and for the Israeli permit to leave Gaza, and have to reinvent the wheel every time we need to leave Gaza for treatment. This can take weeks, even months. We have to wait in suspension, and be always ready to leave when we receive a message of approval from the Israelis. The text message sent to our mobiles often arrives either the night before the appointment or on the same day and the permit is valid for a day….

Fight to save Jaffa’s last Muslim cemetery from Israeli bulldozers

Tamara Nassar EI 1/3/18

Palestinians from Jaffa protested at a hearing in a Tel Aviv court on 28 February where a judge was to decide if the community would be forced to remove hundreds of graves from the Muslim Tasso cemetery. Their protest is part of a long struggle to save the last Muslim cemetery in Jaffa. Israel’s high court endorsed the sale of half of the cemetery to an Israeli investment company in 2008 and after years of legal wrangling upheld the sale again in January. The investment company now wants to build on the cemetery and in recent weeks attempted to demarcate the land, but was met with opposition from residents. The investment company then filed a petition demanding that the community dig up the bodies from the graves and stop burying the dead there even though community leaders point out that it is the only Muslim cemetery in the city.

The company also demanded that the Palestinian community pay $4.25 million for using the land in past years. Residents of Jaffa have formed the Popular Committee for the Defense of Tasso Cemetery to fight the takeover of the land. The committee organized the protest at the hearing, which led the Israeli judge to leave the courtroom, bringing proceedings to a halt. Jaffa was until the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias – a major port and one of the most important Palestinian trading and cultural centers. Since then, the small Palestinian community that survived the mass expulsions and flight has tried to cling on in the face of determined Israeli gentrification efforts to drive them out and erase their history … According to the head of the elected Islamic body in Jaffa Muhammad Durei, Israeli authorities have confiscated all other cemeteries in the district, and in some cases built over the dead….

Israel passes law to strip residency of Jerusalem’s Palestinians

Al Jazeera 7/3/18

The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the minister of interior to revoke the residency rights of any
Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of a "breach

The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the minister of interior to revoke the residency rights of any Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of a “breach of loyalty” to Israel. The bill, ratified on Wednesday, will also apply in cases where residency status was obtained on the basis of false information, and in cases where "an individual committed a criminal act in the view of the interior ministry. Under the new measure, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox political party Shas, will be able to strip the residency documents of any Palestinian whom he deems a threat. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), described the law as “an extremely racist piece of legislation…

Despite Israel’s claims that occupied East Jerusalem is part of its “eternal, undivided” capital, the Palestinians who are born and live there do not hold Israeli citizenship, unlike their Jewish counterparts. Palestinians in the city are given “permanent residency” ID cards and temporary Jordanian passports that are only used for travel purposes. They are essentially stateless, stuck in legal limbo – they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine. The new bill will only worsen the difficult conditions for the 420,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, who are treated as foreign immigrants  by the state. Any Palestinian who has lived outside of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the occupied West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of at least 14,000 Palestinians. In a statement on his Twitter page, Deri, the interior minister, said this law would allow him to protect the “security of Israeli citizens”. Deri, who was, in the past, convicted of bribery, fraud and “breach of trust”, said the law would “be used against permanent residents who plan to carry out attacks against Israeli citizens”.

Adalah, a Palestinian rights group in Israel, said the law is illegal under international humanitarian law. “East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory under international humanitarian law (IHL) – like all other areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – and its Palestinian residents are a protected civilian population. It is therefore illegal under IHL to impose upon them an obligation of loyalty to the occupying power, let alone to deny them the permanent residency status on this basis,” a statement by the group said. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch said such residency revocations, which force Palestinians out of Jerusalem, ‘could amount to war crimes’ under the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC)….

Army pours concrete into room of detainee in Qabatia

IMEMC 13/3/18

Israeli soldiers invaded on Tuesday the town of Qabatia, south of Jenin, and poured concrete into the room of detainee Yousef Khaled Kamil.The family said that the soldiers surrounded their property, and poured the concrete into their detained son’s room in their family home. Yousef is imprisoned by Israel for allegedly killingan Israeli last year in Kafr Qassem. Jenin Governor Kamil Abu ar-Rob said the soldiers poured 42 cubic meters of concrete into the room as a form of collective punishment against the family. He added that the soldiers were unable to demolish the property, because the family’s residence is located in an apartment building. Instead,they filled a room in the building with concrete, which will render the apartment building structurally unsound,and inevitably cause it to collapse. During the invasion, the soldiers attacked Palestinian protesters and fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades, in addition to invading homes and occupying their rooftops…

A charming, spruced-up Jerusalem spot – free of Palestinians

Naama Riba Ha’aretz 15/3/18

The lovely spring, which is 300 feet over the green line, has undergone a 14 million shekel face-lift- but a fence and roadblock will cut off Palestinian villagers’ access, who have frequented the site for centuries — “When we arrived here there was an old man sitting under his fig tree, and shepherds would come to water their flocks – the place was enchanted. It was like a focal point of activities in the area. Our intention was to tidy it up a bit  and then leave, as if we’d never been here,” recalls landscape architect Iris Tal, who was charged with upgrading the area surrounding Ein Hanya, the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills. But Tal’s good intentions are now clashing with local politics.

After 3,000 years in which the spring was open to and frequented by local Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Jerusalem Municipality is planning to set up a roadblock nearby which will prevent thousands of residents from the adjacent Palestinian villages of al-Walaja and Battir and environs from reaching the site. The villagers, who used the spring for recreational purposes also depended on its water for their livestock, are unable now to get to the pool itself; it was fenced off after renovation work began in mid-2016. The battle over the roadblock plan is currently being fought in a Jerusalem court….

Racist law passed – allowing Israeli police to hold bodies of Palestinians as precondition for funeral arrangements

Adalah 12/03/2018

Withholding bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli police and preventing their immediate burial violates Israeli and international law.

The Israeli parliament on Wednesday, 7 March 2018, approved a law that allows the Israeli police to hold the bodies of Palestinians killed by the police or other security forces until families agree to preconditions on funeral arrangements.

Forty-eight Knesset members voted in favor of the law, which applies to Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and Israeli police only. It does not apply to West Bank Palestinians or to the Israeli military. The new law was legislated following a precedent-setting Israeli Supreme Court ruling on a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel which determined that Israeli police did not have the legal authority to hold bodies – particularly given that doing so constitutes a violation of basic rights.

How an Israeli mayor is keeping Arabs from his utopian community to up hold its ‘Zionist-Jewish nature’

Noa Shpigel & Jack Khoury Ha’aretz 18/3/18

The mayor of a town in northern Israel announced that he was suspending future sales of building lots in the community after around half of the winning bids in the most recent phase were from Israeli Arabs. In a message to residents issued Friday, Kfar Vradim Mayor Sivan Yechieli said he was “responsible for preserving the secular-Jewish-Zionist nature of Kfar Vradim,” adding that he planned to “ask the relevant government bodies to create solutions allowing for the maintenance of demographic balances.”

The controversy erupted when a resident of the community, real estate broker Nati Sheinfeld, reported the results of the sale on Facebook and called on the community to “wake up.” … A similar move by Arab residents into Jewish communities has occurred elsewhere in Israel, in Upper Nazareth, for example, to which residents of the Arab city of Nazareth have moved, now representing 20 percent of Upper Nazareth’s residents. In the Jewish city of Afula two years ago, there was an outcry when all of the successful bidders on lots in a new neighborhood were Arab.

Imprisoned Palestinian mother Rusaila Shamasneh launches hunger strike against isolation of 14-year-old daughter Sarah

Samidoun 14/2/18

Mother and daughter Rusaila Shamasneh and 14-year-old Sarah Shamasneh were brought before the Ofer Israeli occupation military court on Tuesday, 13 February. The two were seized from their home in Qatana, northwest of Jerusalem, on 31 January. The Shamasnehs are the mother and sister of Mohammed Shamasneh, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 after he participated in a stabbing operation against an armed occupation soldier in Jerusalem and attempted to grab the soldier’s weapon.

While many people know of the imprisonment of Nariman and Ahed Tamimi, they are not the only mother-daughter pair held in Israeli jails. Rusaila, 48, and her daughter are being held isolated from one another under interrogation. Reports have indicated that Rusaila has launched a hunger strike against her forced separation from her daughter and is now on her 10th day of open hunger strike. Both mother and daughter are held in HaSharon prison.

Rusaila Shamasneh is being accused in the military courts of firing a gun into the air during the funeralof her son in 2016 and “assaulting” a soldier during her arrest after her daughter, Sarah, was reportedly pushed and hit by the invading forces attacking the family home. The Shamasneh’s lawyer, Ismail al-Tawil, emphasized that the so-called charges are two years old; at the time, Sarah was only 12. Al-Tawil also noted that Sarah was hospitalized due to her injuries from the soldiers’ attack, and that Rusaila was bruised and injured as well.

Video showing soldier cheering as sniper hits Palestinian

Yoav Zitun Ynet 9/4/18

A video [below] making the rounds on WhatsApp on Monday evening purports to show an IDF sniper shooting a Palestinian who came near the Gaza border fence. It is unclear where on the Gaza border or when the video was filmed, and the IDF has yet to confirm its authenticity. The video, which was filmed through the lenses of a rifle’s sights or binoculars, shows several Palestinians close to the border fence.

A commander is heard instructing the sniper, telling him, “When he comes out, you get him. Do you have a bullet in the barrel? Are you on him?” After the sniper responds in the affirmative, the commander tells him “Go.” The sniper tells the commander that he cannot shoot, because the barbed-wire near the fence was in the way. Several moments later, the commander speaks again, this time telling the sniper to hold fire after he spots a child. Later two snipers are heard discussing who was on which Palestinian, following which a single shot is heard and one Palestinian is seen falling to the ground, with dozens of others immediately converging on him. “Wow, what a video! YES! Son of a b****,” one of the soldiers is heard exclaiming. Another is heard commenting that “Someone was hit in the head.” At first glance, it appears the video was filmed by a soldier who wasn’t shooting, but was alongside the snipers who were. One soldier is heard whispering the cameraman “Film it, film it,” with the filming soldier commenting “what a legendary video.”

The video’s release comes after more than a week of daily protests by Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel border in which 30 Gazans have been shot dead. The IDF said the clip might have been filmed months ago. In a tweeted statement, the IDF said: “With regard to the video of the soldiers at the Gaza Strip border – it was probably an event that occurred a number of months ago. The event will be investigated and examined thoroughly.” Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List of Arab parties, said it was “a clip that terrifies the soul, rejoicing over the taking of life and what appears to be the execution of someone who endangered no one”. He called for the shooter to be put on trial…

Israeli forces demolish school south of Hebron

WAFA 10/4/18

Israeli forces demolished Monday night Zanouta school to the south of Hebron, according to Palestinian Ministry of Education official. Mohammad Sami, Ministry of Education directorate in southern Hebron, told WAFA that Israeli forces demolished and dismantled Zanouta school in the Bedouin community to the east of Dahriyyeh, in the southern West Bank, which was recently inaugurated. The school, which comprises six classrooms, was built from cement blocks and metal plates and provides services for 43 students including 10 children in kindergarten. Minister of Education and Higher Education Sabri Saidam and Hebron Governor Kamil Hmeid inaugurated the school in March 25 along with other six schools built to provide education for children in communities endangered by Israeli military measures.


Hugh Humphries


Scottish Friends of Palestine

0141 637 8046








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